Book Review: Adventures of a Young Naturalist by David Attenborough

Friday, May 4, 2018

Title: Adventures of a Young Naturalist
Author: Sir David Attenborough
Publication Date: 26th September 2017 from Hachette

Synopsis: "In 1954, a fresh young television presenter was offered the opportunity of a lifetime - to travel the world finding rare and elusive animals for London Zoo's collection, and to film the expeditions for the BBC. His name was David Attenborough, and the programme, Zoo Quest, not only heralded the start of a remarkable career in broadcasting, but changed the way we viewed the natural world forever.

Written with his trademark wit and charm, Adventures of a Young Naturalist encompasses David Attenborough's expeditions to Guyana, Indonesia, and Paraguay. It includes his encounters with many wonderful creatures; from three-toed sloths in Guyana to armadillos in Paraguay and Komodo Dragons in Indonesia, caiman on the Rupununi, orangutans in Borneo, chameleons and more.

Sir David Attenborough is a broadcaster and naturalist, whose television career is now in its seventh decade. His latest programme, Planet Earth II, averaged an audience of more than ten million per episode, and was the most-watched nature documentary of all time.

The books were first published in the 1950s and have been out of print for decades. The new edition includes a new introduction by Sir David Attenborough as well as a selection of photographs from his archives, some of which have never been published before."

My thoughts: I am a huge fan of David Attenborough since way back when I was a kid - my aunties got me a (VHS!) boxset of The Life of Birds when I was around 11 years old and I remember watching it over and over again - to the strange mix of pride and frustration of my parents. When I graduated my first Bachelor's Degree, I treated myself to the DVD boxset of the Life Collection (which, if I'm honest, I am still working through. Attenborough has put out a lot of series, and it's hard not to get distracted!). I used to own a secondhand copy of Zoo Quest for a Dragon, which I ended up having to give up during a big house move, so I was really excited to see that Hachette were republishing/repackaging some of the Zoo Quest diaries into Adventures of a Young Naturalist - including Zoo Quest for a Dragon!

Now that my backstory is out of the way, how did the republication match up? Amazingly well. Attenborough's engaged and witty tone works so well, and his added introduction shows how much he has learnt over his career, and his desire to share animal lives so that people can learn more about the animal world, and perhaps about ourselves in the process. Some of the things that Attenborough had to endure during the course of each of these Quests was completely startling to me, and I am honestly so surprised that he didn't lose his temper all the time - or lose his desire to travel to far-flung places to learn more. 

The antics that he describes from both humans and animal folk alike had me giggling and gasping with shock, and the newly added photos are fantastic reference and just bring the whole book together in a joyful way. The way that Attenborough writes manages to convey not just the beauty and sometimes horror of the natural world, but also his own insatiable thirst to know and learn more - at times it comes across as an almost childlike wonder, which honestly filled me with a gentle joy and brought me back to the first time I watch The Life of Birds on our beat-up VHS player. Attenborough is here doing what he does best - learning about animals, and inspiring wonder and fascination in all that read (and watch).

I highly recommend checking out this republication, particularly if you are an Attenborough fan like myself.

{I received a review copy of this from Hachette in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!!!}

A favourite line from the book: 'Purple sea fans branched above the coral, and here and there we saw sea anemones of a size unthinkable to anyone who has only seen them in colder seas. Their many-coloured tentacles formed a carpet several feet across, and as vagrant currents passed them they waved like a field of corn with the wind upon it.'

You would like this book if: You enjoy nature books/books filled with nature writing; you are a fan of Sir David Attenborough; you like exploration stories featuring humour, sadness, and sometimes a bit of action.

Rating:  8.5/10

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1 comment:

  1. I'm really really curious about what sort of challenges he faced, adventures and dangers and frustrations! I hope you can share some stories with me, and perhaps I'll even read it myself!


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